Gingrich and Romney debate 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both put the blame squarely on Hamas for blocking a Palestinian state, when asked about the peace process at Thursday night’s CNN debate.
“The reason that there’s not peace between the Palestinians and Israel is because there is – in the leadership of the Palestinian people are Hamas and others who think like Hamas, who have as their intent the elimination of Israel,” Romney said in response to an audience question from a Palestinian- American on how the candidates would bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
“The Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution,” Romney charged.
“It’s the Palestinians who don’t want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel.”
He added, “The best way to have peace in the Middle East is not for us to vacillate and to appease, but is to say, we stand with our friend Israel.
We are committed to a Jewish state in Israel. We will not have an inch of difference between ourselves and our ally, Israel.”
Gingrich noted his agreement with Romney before emphasizing, “The leadership of Hamas says not a single Jew will remain. We aren’t having a peace negotiation then. This is war by another form.”
He continued by saying that the Palestinians could have peace and their own state “any morning they are prepared to say Israel has a right to exist, we give up the right to return, and we recognize that we’re going to live side-byside, now let’s work together to create mutual prosperity.”
When moderator Wolf Blitzer referenced Gingrich’s comments earlier in the campaign calling the Palestinians an “invented” people, the candidate reiterated his position.
“It was technically an invention of the late 1970s, and it was clearly so,” he said. “Prior to that, they were Arabs. Many of them were either Syrian, Lebanese, or Egyptian, or Jordanian.”
Gingrich also pledged – to applause from the audience in Jacksonville, Florida – that one of his priorities would be to relocate the US Embassy in Israel.
“On the first day that I’m president, if I do become president, I will sign an executive order directing the State Department to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send the signal we’re with Israel,” he said.